October 22, 2016

Calm Down Techniques

15 Minute Fifth Grade Lesson

A fifth grade teacher asked me to do a quick lesson with her students highlighting calm down techniques. Her class this year is quick to anger and don’t know what to do with that big emotion in the moment.

She had 15 minutes to spare me and wanted me to focus on various calm down techniques. That’s quite the mission in 15 minutes, I did my best to make it happen!

I started the lesson by showing this video:

I did not create nor do I have rights to this video. I just thought this was a cute icebreaker for the lesson. This class has an issue with getting each other going and not allowing others the space to calm down. I wanted them to understand that by getting in a mad person’s face, you’re hurting the situation not helping.  

I started by explaining to them that in the video, the cat tries to force the baby to calm down. I liken it to someone telling us to calm down and expecting that to work. Never in the history of calming down has somebody calmed down from being told to calm down. Sometimes the best way to calm someone own is by giving them space and allowing them to calm down in their own way.

I then had them talk as a table about the main thing that makes them angry and what they do to calm down. After a few minutes of talking, I had two people from each table share with the class. It was interesting to hear them share their feeling with their friends. Having them open up about how at times others feed into their insecurities and make them very upset was eye opening for students.  I think they learned a lot about each other and their friend’s trigger points. Hopefully, this will help them to better understand how to interact with each other.

It is clear from their behaviors this year that my fifth graders care a whole lot about what others think and do not like to take risks that might cause others to make fun of them. I wanted to give them a calm down technique that they could quietly do under the table or behind their back.

I then showed them this video, which I also did not create and do not own the rights to.

The teacher loved this technique. She thought that if they could try this when they get heated and have both hands busy, there is less of a chance they will swing on each other. It’s a scary world we live in that this is a serious concern for a fifth grade classroom.

I had them follow along with the video and try the technique with the added breathing exercise. Once finished I passed out this double sided, “Keep your Cool, Don’t have a Meltdown” technique sheet.

I had students circle the techniques that work for them or that they want to try, and cross out the ones they know do not work well for them. When they were finished, they shared their favorite technique and one technique they were going to try next time they were upset with their other kid’s at their table.

After some thoughtful discussion, I left them with this parting video (I did not create and do not own the rights to):

I challenged them to think about this in terms of their school day. If they are reactive and do the first thing that comes to mind, it can blow up in their face. Just like the angry birds in the video. If they take their time, calm down and come up with a plan, it will work out much better for them in the end.

The next morning, I found this picture in my mailbox. Hopefully that means I touched somebody with my lesson.

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